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Does Bankruptcy Affect Getting A Job Offer?

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Dear J.T. & Dale: I recently lost my job after being there a year. Prior to that job, I’d been unemployed for two years, went through my savings, and eventually filed for bankruptcy. How negatively do employers view an applicant who has a bankruptcy on his or her credit report? Does bankruptcy affect getting a job offer for qualified applicants? What can I do to make employers see I am not a bad, lazy or irresponsible person? — Michael

Dale: OK, it’s true there are some employers who care about credit ratings. So what? (I’m shrugging here.) I’ve never seen any statistics on the subject, but let’s say that 20 percent of employers say that a bankruptcy bounces you out of contention. What does that mean for your search? Yes, that’s right — you have to focus on the other 80 percent and forget the 20. Practice shrugging.

J.T.: Still, you might be able to convert some of those who do care. Here’s what I suggest: Get through the first round of interviewing; then, if you’re invited for a second interview, at the end of that interview, say something like this: “I have huge respect for you and the company and really want this job, so I feel it’s important that you hear this from me.” Then you own up to the bankruptcy.

You might say: “I can’t say how hard it is to share this, but I ran into tough times and a bankruptcy was unavoidable. It taught me some important lessons, but now I’d like very much to put it behind me by landing this position and building my credit again.” It takes a brave professional with a lot of character to say those things. Employers will love you had the guts to do so and you respect them enough to tell them.

Dale: Part of me wants to agree — after all, everyone loves a good confession, and it would humanize you, Michael. However, in a time when bankruptcy is common, I hate to have you go into a second interview worrying about when and how to bring it up. It’s better if you just forget about it. (What might help you forget is to put “famous people with bankruptcies” into Google and see you are in the company of Walt Disney, Larry King, Willie Nelson and many, many others.)

J.T.: But why risk having the bankruptcy be a surprise to the employer? Here’s a compromise: Forget about the bankruptcy until the second interview is over; then, at the end, when you ask about next steps, if they mention a background check, bring up the bankruptcy — you might even mention all those famous people who’ve shared the experience.

© 2012 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Feel free to send questions to J.T. and Dale at advice@jtanddale.com or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

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J.T. & Dale

“JT & Dale Talk Jobs” is the largest nationally syndicated career advice column in the country. J.T. O’Donnell and Dale Dauten are both professional development experts.

5 comments

  1. Steve is absolutely correct. I’m a recruiter with 5 years experience. Credit checks cost extra money that most companies don’t want to spend. Especially at this point in history, when most companies are rather fiscally conservative. The vast majority of jobs (aside from finance and law enforcement) couldn’t care less about your credit score, or bankruptcy filing. In fact, with the down economy, most people have at least one or two negatives on their report. They’d be disqualifying great candidates left and right, which is something they definitely don’t want to do.

    The “if you file bankruptcy you’ll never get a job” line is largely an industry scare tactic, and if your friends tell you this (god bless them – we know they mean well) they’re just plain wrong and only repeating bad information.

  2. Mr. Myers,

    Your input is very important as you are a recruiter. I think your opinion should held a little higher than other peoples.

    Nice to hear your input with your type of experience!

  3. Spot on Steve…. anything negative a person reveals about themselves only adds potential baggage that hiring companies do not want to burden themselves. My experience with those that hire and fire is that one can do anything they want, until they get caught. Then it is up to the “victim” to “prove” and 99% of the time will be unsuccessful with wasted time and funds. After 7 years of being unemployed, and still searching, eventually everyone’s financial backup has to end and it is not always bad decision making that leads to bankruptcy.

  4. This is terrible advice. The only time a bankruptcy or credit report issue will impact your chances of getting a job is if the position is in the Finance Department or if it has significant discretionary budget responsibility (i.e. Director or VP level or above). If you work in any function other than Finance, 99% of employers don’t run a credit check. And if they do, there are no legal grounds for them to rescind an offer because of bad credit. There is no need to disclose this info up front. By disclosing this, you are sharing information that will allow them to legally and quietly remove you from consideration. This is similar to telling them you have cancer. They can’t ask, but if you disclose it, they can simply say they went with a different candidate for X reason, and there’s no legal recourse. Don’t be stupid, keep your mouth shut and let them evaluate you on the merits of your work, not your credit score.
    Signed,
    A corporate recruiter with 15 years of experience

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